Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

us to port. While the inmates of the cabin, like birds after a storm, are sunning themselves on deck, let those of my readers who purpose traversing with me the ISLAND WORLD take a leisurely survey of our first fortnight in the Pacific.

We little thought that doubling Cape Horn in summer would be so full of difficulty. Now we doubt whether it would be worse in mid-winter. It would seem as if the genii of storms ruled the realm. The ancients, had they known it, would have located the cave of Æolus at the end of Tierra del Fuego, in the side of one of those burning mountains. Auster and Eurus, and Boreas and Euroclydon, and all the intermediate winds of the thirty-two points of the compass, seem to have arranged their forces so as most advantageously to dispute every inch of the way with the bold navigator.

Four other ships, which we caught sight of at different times, were contesting the passage in like manner with ourselves, through cold, and sleet, and opposing seas. All of us, we argued, cannot be baffled, and our own chance is as good as any. Patience held out with most. At every abatement of the gale, and interval of sunshine, the sailors would cheerfully hang up their sea-soaked clothes, joke over the perils of the storm, and equip themselves anew for reefing and tacking.

It was truly pitiable, sometimes, at the hours for changing watches, to see the top of a sea break over the bow or quarter, and wet them all while pulling at the ropes, so that the watch just called must stay wet during their four hours of duty, and the watch going below must turn in dripping. A landsman could hardly help trembling for their safety, when they were ordered aloft to furl, while the ship was rolling so violently, and the wind blowing in such gusts of fury, that it seemed almost impossible for the topmasts and yards to sustain the shocks.

For several days we were reduced to close-reefed fore and maintopsails, the ship meantime rolling so tremendously, that a man incurred no small risk of broken bones who should attempt to cross the deck, or stand for a moment anywhere without being firmly braced, or having a rope to hold on by.

We did not get sight of the redoubtable Cape, but were driven off to the parallel of 60°, near the South Shetlands, and afterward made the land of Cape Desolation, on the western side of Tierra del Fuego. Discoverers have rightly named it, for we thought land never seemed so bleak and desolate, snow lying between the hills and in the hollows of the mountains in this July of the South.

THE ALBATROSS.

museum,

While off the coast of Patagonia, when the weather permitted, some of the passengers, and the watch on duty, occupied themselves in fishing for albatrosses. They are caught by baiting a hook with pork or blubber, fastening a piece of wood near the bait so that it

may be kept floating, and letting it tow astern. The noble birds would wheel and hover over it, and at length alight on the water like a swan, and often succeed in getting all the bait without being hooked. But six or seven times they were taken and hauled aboard, the unsuspected hook catching within their long bills.

They measure nine or ten feet across the wings. The first one was killed and stuffed, to be carried home for some

The rest were sacrificed for their long bills, wings, and large web-feet.

This bird is uncommonly beautiful and majestic. Its motion through space is the easiest and most graceful conceivable. In storm or calm, once raised upon its broad pinions, you never see them flutter, but away it sails, self-propelled, as naturally as we breathe; a motion of the head, or a slight curl of a wing serving to turn it, as the course of a rapid skater is ruled at pleasure by an almost imperceptible inclination to right or left.

A poor Peruvian, who was working his passage home, ascribed all our bad weather and high winds afterwards to having killed the albatrosses ! and he and the superstitious cook, in the height of the gale, prevailed upon a young passenger who had taken one the day previous, and was keeping it alive in the long-boat, to let the noble bird go free. Like the marinets in Coleridge's rime, they said, —

“We had done a hellish thing,
And it would work us woe:
Stout they averred we had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow!
*Ah, wretch!' said they, 'the bird to slay,
That made the breeze tu blow !'"

This glorious bird, the albatross, is the most beautiful and lovable object of the animate world which the adventurer meets with in all the South Pacific. When on the wing it is the very beauideal of beauty and grace. Seamen ought to love and prize it dearly, for the drear monotony of life at sea is often relieved by its always welcome appearance, and by watching with admiration, almost envy, its glorious curves and swoops in the elastic ocean of air--a free race-ground where it has no competitor,

A writer, who must have seen the bird in its native seas, says that it flies against, as well as before, the wind, and hovers around a ship at sea, never outstripped by its speed. “It enjoys the calm, and sports in the sunbeams on the glassy wave; but it revels in the storm, and darts its arrowy way before the fury of the gale. It seems to be then in its element. Mocking the surges of the mighty sea, and breasting the tempest's blast, its flight has not less sublimity, perhaps, than that of the eagle darting upward to the skies. It is a beautiful sight to behold this noble bird sailing in the air in light and graceful movements.

After the first muscular exertion which gives impulse to its flight, its wings are always expanded, like the sails of a ship, and show no motion--as if it were wafted on by some invisible power. It is from this cause that it sustains untired its long and distant flight across the sea.”

Rev. HENRY T. CHEEVER.

THE ANCIENT MARINER.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

And forward bends his head,
The ship drove fast, loud roared the blast,
And southward aye we fled.

And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold :
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.

And through the drifts the snowy clifts
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken-
The ice was all between.

The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and

howled,
Like noises in a swound !

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came:
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God's name.

It ate the food it ne'er had eat,
And round and round it flew :
The ice did split with a thunder-fit;
The heimsman steered us through !

And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner's hollo !

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke

white
Glimmered the white moonshine.”

God save thee, ancient Mariner,
From the fiends that plague thee thus !
Why look’st thou so?”.

-“ With my crossbow I shot the Albatross...

And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work 'em woc;
For all averred I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow!

Ah wretch !' said they, 'the bird to slay, That made the wind to blow !'

Vor dim nor red, like God's own head,
The glorious Sun uprist;
Then all averred I had killed the bird
That brought the fog and mist.
'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist. ....

The western wave was all a-flame,
The day was well-nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad, bright Sun:
When that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the Sun.

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt And straight the Sun was flecked with bars, down,

(Heaven's Mother send us grace !) 'Twas sad as sad could be ;

As if through a dungeon grate he peered And we did speak only to break

With broad and burning face. The silence of the sea. ....

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat lond) Day after day, day after day,

How fast she nears and nears! We stuck, nor breath nor motion ;

Are those her sails glance in the Sun, As idle as a painted ship

Like restless gossameres ? Upon a painted ocean.

Are those her ribs through which the Sun Water, water everywhere,

Did peer, as through a grate? And all the boards did shrink;

And is that Woman all her crew ? Water, water everywhere,

Is that a Death ? and are there two? Vor any drop to drink. ....

Is Death that Woman's mate?. A bont, about, in reel and rout,

The naked hull alongside came, The death-fires danced at night ;

And the twain were casting dice;The water, like a witch's oils,

* The game is done! I've won, I've won!' Burnt green, and blue, and white.

Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

[blocks in formation]
« PredošláPokračovať »